Learning to say good luck in Italian will let you make many new friends. Saying good luck not only boost people’s confidence but also creates a very positive vibe between you and other people. Exploring common phrases to say good luck will help you the right phrase based on the nature of your situation.

This guide will give you some handy phrases to encourage your native Italian speaker. Learning common Italian words will surely increase your probability to become fluent in this language. It will also increase your confidence to carry out Italian conversations in public.

Let’s explore these four phrases, their origination, and contextual use one by one.

Buona fortuna! (Good luck!)

Meaning:  The literal translation of “buona fortuna” is good luck. It translates as “Good luck” in Spanish and “Bonne chance” in French. When greeting or wishing someone well, the Italian “buon” or “buona” (good) is commonly used.

For example:

  • “Buon viaggio!” (Have a nice trip!)
  • “Buon appetito!” (Have a good meal!)
  • “Buon compleanno!” (Happy birthday!)
  • “Buona notte!” (Goodnight!)

“Fortuna” is the Italian word for “luck.”

In terms of luck, did you know that while the rest of the world fears the number 13 (and the bad luck it is said to bring), your Italian friends believe it is a lucky number?  In fact they fear the number 17 as a sign of bad luck.

This is because the number 17 is XVII when written in Roman numerals. That appears innocent enough, but rearranging the letters yields VIXI. No, that is not an Italian luxury label. It comes from the Latin phrase “I have lived.”

“Lived,” in the past tense. That is, your life is over. That is, you have died. That’s why, on some Alitalia flights, there’s no row 17 and no room 17 or 17th floor in Italian hotels.

If you are planning a trip to Italy soon, you need to know their customs first. There are different apps to learn Italian. You can use certain apps to understand the customs of Italian people, giving yourself a chance to know them a little better.

In bocca al lupo! (Into the wolf’s mouth!)

Meaning: Many people believe that directly wishing someone good luck will jinx the situation and bring about the polar opposite: bad luck.

Instead, many Italians use the phrase “In bocca al lupo” to wish a friend good luck. Perhaps they are about to attend an interview or take an exam. You can use the phrase “In bocca al lupo,” which translates to “break a leg.” Your friend is supposed to respond with “Crepi il lupo!” or simply “Crepi!” for short.

Nobody knows where the phrase “In bocca al lupo” came from. There are a few theories about the phrase’s origin, but like “break a leg,” we can’t really pinpoint it with complete certainty.

“In bocca al lupo” is said to have been used to send off hunters on an expedition. “Lupo” (wolf) represents any danger, challenge, or difficulty that may be encountered along the way. Yes, you will find yourself in the mouth of the wolf in life, but by responding, “Crepi!” (die), you are saying that you will overcome whatever challenge lies ahead of you.

Another traditional explanation for this Italian phrase dates back to Rome’s inception. Romulus and Remus, the mythological twin brothers who founded Rome, are said to have been raised by a she-wolf. They were abandoned on a riverbank, but a wolf nursed to bring them back to life and health.

In this story, the wolf is benevolent, as opposed to the previous one, where it represents danger or an impediment. If we take the phrase from the story of Romulus and Remus, then being in the wolf’s mouth is a good thing, because wolves carry their pups in their mouths. In other words, the safest place for a helpless pup is in its mother’s mouth, where it is safe from the world’s tricks.

However, the response “Crepi!” throws a twist in this explanation because you wouldn’t want the wolf to die if it represented safety. If the second origin story is correct, the reply phrase may have evolved centuries later after the rest of the story had been forgotten.

In any case, you can wish your friend good luck in Italian with “In bocca al lupo.”

How to pronounce: “In bocca al lupo” is a good example of how Italians love to contract sounds. Because of the sequential “As” in “bocca” and “al,” as well as the sequential “Ls” in “al” and “lupo,” the phrase can be pronounced “in bocalupo.” This is the sound you will hear from native speakers as they speak very quickly.

In the same way, the response, “Crepi il lupo” (may the wolf die), with its series of “Is” in “crepi” and “il” and “Ls” in “il” and “lupo,” can simply sound like “crepilupo” in conversation.

In culo alla balena! (In the whale’s bottom!)

Meaning: If you think “Buona fortuna” is too dry and “In bocca al lupo” is too common, consider throwing your friend something a little cruder, with a hint of vulgarity.

Don’t use this on strangers or people you don’t know well. The expression assumes a certain level of familiarity with the person you wish it on, especially when the standard response to “In culo alla balena” (in the bottom of the whale) is “Speriamo che non caghi” (let’s hope it doesn’t poop).

Nobody knows where this phrase originated. Some say it originated in the mouths of sailors.

Others point to the Biblical story of Jonah, who was on a ship that was caught in a terrible storm. The long and short of it is that the boat’s crew determined that Jonah was cursed and that they needed to throw him overboard if they were to survive the gale force winds. That is precisely what they did! And the sea calmed down again.

Meanwhile, Jonah was quickly swallowed by a whale and spent three days inside it before being delivered to dry land.

While we can’t be certain that this is the origin of the expression, there are some parallels, such as the concept of bad luck and the whale.

Furthermore, English speakers shouldn’t get too worked up about the origins of “In culo alla balena” when they have idioms like “it’s raining cats and dogs” and sayings like “fat chance” and “slim chance” that both mean the same thing.

We know that the origination of these phrases may haunt some learners but thanks to the technological advancements that there are different online language learning platforms including italki that can help you learn Italian online from the most experienced and highly professional Italian teachers online. Enroll yourself and let the learning begin!

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Auguri! (Best wishes!)

Meaning: When you want to wish someone well, you can use the phrase “Auguri!” It is derived from the Latin verb “augurare,” which means “to wish.” For example, if a friend is celebrating a birthday, you can greet him with “Auguri!”

“Auguri!” can also be used for Christmas or Easter. It is an abbreviation for “Auguri di Buon Natale!” and “Auguri di Buona Pasqua!” (Merry Easter!) Simply say “Auguri!” and the context of the situation will be considered. Your well-wishes will be remembered, whether it’s a new job, a new baby, or a new home.


You now have four ways to say “good luck” in Italian and impress your new friends. The best way to learn these phrases is to hear them spoken by native Italian speakers. This allows you to commit them to memory and ensure proper usage. For example, there are several ways to say I love you in Italian and you need to choose the right phrase or expression to express your feelings.Choose the right phrase to say good luck in Italian, ranging from formal to informal situations so that you can handle your situations pretty well.

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